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Juliana Hatfield May Or May Not Sell A Personal Note From Kurt Cobain

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Juliana Hatfield

 

This story reveals several sad aspects of the life of musicians: Juliana Hatfield has written an essay for the Talkhouse, in which she explains she may or may not sell a personal note from Kurt Cobain.

Ideally, personal notes should never been sold, and you can feel how much she is struggling with the idea through the whole essay, ‘I still might decide, at the last minute, to keep it,’ she writes at the end. Juliana Hatfield has a career, she has many albums and collaborations under her belt, but still, she needs money to pay her rent, and it is very sad to see that a musician like her is in such dire financial state: ‘I sometimes have to scramble to stay on top of the rent, the student loans, the car payments, car insurance, health insurance, dog insurance, phone, Internet, utilities, union dues, the storage space…’

She has sold her guitars and Dali prints in the past, and it’s interesting that she has kept this Cobain note over the years. She seems heartbroken to have to finally sell it, ‘Because the truth was that the letter meant, and still means, a lot to me. More than money.’

But she is not a sentimental, attached to memorabilia and she knows to keep some of it:

‘I would make a copy for myself, of course, so I could still read the words, see the sloppy handwriting and the smiley face. After all, it wasn’t the fading paper or the ink or any traces of Kurt’s DNA that mattered — it was the intangible content. The meaning, the memory, the sentiment — all that would remain, even if I just kept a scanned copy.’

So she is asking for $20,000 for this cute note, written by Cobain on a simple notebook page. It’s an apology, at least Kurt thought he had to apologize because he hadn’t spent too much time with Juliana when she met him after a Nirvana show at the Roseland Ballroom in New York in 1993 during the In Utero tour,’ There wasn’t really much time or space to focus on having a conversation. But Kurt was very gracious and respectful to me in those brief few minutes, and I was glad to have finally met him.’

The note shows how much Kurt Cobain was paying attention to people, even at the top of his success, it also shows how uncomfortable he was with his success. ‘The letter is a record of a moment in my life and career — and in the life and career of an American rock & roll phenom who didn’t live to play many more shows or to write many more letters. But, more important, it is a record of Kurt Cobain’s thoughtfulness, sensitivity, generosity, humility and humor, as well as his embarrassment and conflict about his popularity,’ writes Juliana… ‘I was just disoriented because of all the classic after show meet and greet grossness that goes on,’ wrote Cobain with a lot of humor and authenticity.

Nirvana played at the Roseland Ballroom on July 1993, then finished their US tour before an European tour at the beginning of 1994, and about 8 months later, Kurt Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle. Broke or dead, this essay gives us a very sad and realistic perspective on musicians’ life.

 

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